Mentoring is a BIG word  – what does it really mean?

According to Merriam Webster:

men·​tor \ ˈmen-ˌtȯr

1a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus’ son Telemachus

2a trusted counselor or guide

That is a good start – the key work is TRUSTED.  When trust is the foundation, real, constructive and “love in your heat” conversations can take place.

I have been involved in several mentoring experiences throughout my life and career.  I actually have had several mentors at a time, each for a specific area of personal and professional growth.  When to take an introspective look and consider where you want to be in 3 to 5 years, a mentor or set of mentors can be invaluable.

According to Rajesh Setty, Contributor writer for the Huffpost and Serial entrepreneur, there are 9 characteristics of a good mentor experience.  These are listed below, and I have enhanced some of the language to position the experience to be a great, 2-way, win-win journey.

  1. Conversations: Keep dialogue active, engaging and challenging.  Be sure questions and dialogue goes both ways.  An ideal mentoring conversation is when both people open themselves to learn something.
  1. Commitment: Be committed to the experience.  Respect each other’s time and commit to honoring it and making the most of your time together.  Honor your word, take the experience seriously.  Do NOT enter a mentoring relationship unless you intend to grow, which hurts sometimes.
  1. Curiosity: “If you are doing what you have always done, you will continue to get the results you have always gotten.” There are exceptions, although there is a lot of truth in this saying.  Introducing curiosity into your life, frees you to look at the same things you have seen or experienced before  with a different set of eyes. A great mentor opens up the doors to curiosity and welcomes you to go back to your childlike enthusiasm to learn and grow.
  1. Capacity: When you increase your capacity, you can produce better and bigger results in the same amount of time. Sometimes it’s a small shift in the way you are thinking or acting that will put your capacity into high gear.
  1. Confidence: Believing in yourself will inspire you to take action.  Working with your mentor, together you discover your inner strength and discuss and discern what is the best or right action for you as you take the next step in your journey. 
  1. Connections: It really is all about the people!  The right connections for you at the right time can instantly open new doors, expand your capacity and give you credibility by association. 
  1. Choreography: Navigating out of your comfort zone is not easy and fun. Logically, there is discomfort on the path which generally creates resistance, tempting you to go back to your “tried and tested” approaches. A good mentor helps you choose among the available options at hand, and coaches you how to choreograph the sequence of steps to get maximum leverage. 
  1. Celebration: In a good mentoring relationship, both the mentor and mentee celebrate their relationship.  Laugh and then laugh some more!  Treat yourselves! Celebrate the breakthroughs and growth!  Learning is fun and  together you will build a relationship that steers your life journey in compelling and unexpected ways.

In closing – Mentoring can be a life-changing experience.  Mentoring is a journey for both parties. Consider specific mentors for areas of your life you want to enhance, grow or adjust.  …and do not be afraid of the work it takes; it is worth it!

Author Molly SutherlandAbout the Author:

Molly Sutherland
Founder. Sutherland & Associates 



Find Mentors Through Women Leading Kentucky

Professional associations are a great way to connect with mentors. Women Leading Kentucky events offer the opportunity to learn from and get to know successful women leaders in the bluegrass region. We host events online and in-person that will help you extend your network and reach new business partners and opportunities. Join us at our next event!



Featured photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash